Martha is an experienced child law specialist, covering both public and private law. She represents parents, Local Authorities and Guardians at all levels of court and undertakes Direct Access work. For the first five years of practice, she also undertook criminal work and feels that the cross examination and witness handling techniques she learnt then gave her a good grounding for her family work; she has further trained as a mediator and collaborative lawyer and so brings strong client handling and negotiation skills to her cases.
Martha has experience representing Local Authorities, parents, Guardians and separately represented children and has particular experience in the following areas:
- Non Accidental injuries, including shaken baby cases and multiple fractures.
- Fictitious illness and injury.
- Serious sexual abuse, including representation of alleged perpetrators.
- Representing parents with learning difficulties and cases involving the Official Solicitor.
- Representing parents with mental health difficulties.
- PII applications and disclosure from criminal proceedings into care proceedings.
- Neglect and substance misuse.
- Domestic violence.
- Representation of grandparents seeking contact/residence in the context of care proceedings.
- Adoption and placement orders and post final hearing contact applications.
Martha is an experienced private law specialist and has particular expertise in the following areas:
- Cases involving suspected parental alienation or intractable hostility to contact (representing both the hostile parent and the parent seeking contact).
- Fact finding hearings involving serious domestic violence and sexual abuse.
- Cases where the Local authority is involved or which become care proceedings.
- Shared care.
- Applications to change name, specific issue orders in respect of schooling.
- Mediation at court to resolve issues involving a litigant in person.
- Leave to remove from the jurisdiction and internal relocation.
- Non-Molestation injunctions and occupation orders.
J (A Child)  EWCA Civ 1231
Martha successfully appealed a decision made by a Circuit Judge who restricted her cross-examination of a litigant-in-person mother in a long running contact and residence dispute where she represented the father. Martha was praised for her handling of the situation at first instance:
‘Ms Holmes is to be congratulated for doing her duty, politely but firmly standing her ground and telling the Recorder plainly that his ruling was preventing her putting her client’s case. It is a pity that the Recorder did not, even at that point, see any reason to change his mind.’ (per Munby LJ at para.35)
Martha undertakes Child Abduction work. Examples of her experience include:
- Successfully preventing the return of a child to Malta following a contested hearing on the basis of the child’s objections, together with allegations of extreme domestic abuse.
- Representing a ‘stranded spouse’ seeking return to the UK from Pakistan.
- Representing the CAFCASS Guardian in a case where the children’s objections were crucial to the outcome.
Martha has been qualified as a Direct access barrister since 2014 and accepts Direct Access instructions. Examples of cases she has undertaken on this basis include:
- Representing parents in difficult and intractable contact disputes.
- Representing a father seeking a change of residence.
- Representing a client at a fact finding and final hearing relating to allegations of abuse.
- Undertaking an appeal in relation to an application to internationally relocate.
Martha qualified as a mediator in 2007 and is happy to undertake mediation in all aspects of her work.
Reputation & Awards
She deals with complex cases with ease, is always well-prepared and will go the extra mile for her clients.Legal 500, 2024
“Martha Holmes has got a real skill in being able to reduce conflict in children law cases because she is so measured and calm.” – Chambers & Partners, 2024
“Very client-focused and pragmatic. She gives excellent advice.” – Chambers & Partners, 2024
Martha is an excellent barrister. She is a strong and confident advocate who robustly advocates for her clients. She deals with complex cases with ease, is always well-prepared and will go the extra mile for her clients. Her strategic advice is sound and child-focused.’ – Legal 500, 2024
‘Martha has been exceptionally compassionate, kind and patient with myself a vulnerable client with additional needs. She’s had the patience of 100 saints at the times I’ve struggled and therefore presented in ways that were challenging. She’s made adaptions and adjustments to help me with a very understanding and empathetic approach. She’s appeared to genuinely care about my well being and has done everything she can to shield myself from harm over the court proceedings and protect my mental health. I would really recommend her as I have done to the domestic abuse support groups I’m in. She was so good with additional needs the intermediary who was funded for me had nothing to do and the intermediary commented on Martha and my solicitor being the best she had ever seen with supporting clients with communication difficulties. When I can go back to court for new child arrangements I will definitely ask for her. 5 stars out of 5 stars.’ – Direct Access Client
‘Regarding my recent case in the family court, I highly recommend Martha Holmes for her understanding and the way in which she dealt with matters sympathetically and efficiently. After dealing via solicitors initially I found that I received a much better service in using a direct access barrister which cut the time, stress and cost involved. Following the case Ms Holmes still gave me advice pro bono for which I was extremely grateful. I highly recommend your chambers and Ms Martha Holmes in particular. ’ – Direct Access Client
Awards and Scholarships
Inner Temple Major Scholar, Duke of Edinburgh Entrance Award (Inner Temple)
Clare College, Cambridge, History MA
Birmingham University, PGDL
Inns of Court School of Law, BVC
Martha regularly undertakes seminars and lectures on a range of child law topics.